Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The House With Nobody In It

click to enlarge

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I've passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.

I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
I know this house isn't haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn't be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.

This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;
But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.

If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
I'd put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
I'd buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
And I'd find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.

Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.
But there's nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
For the lack of something within it that it has never known.

But a house that has done what a house should do,a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it's left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,
For I can't help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

~The House with Nobody In It Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)


~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

This verse could not have said any better what I also think when I see a house like the one in your post--They do seem so lonely because all that was there is gone and they are alone...Our house felt like that when I first saw it. It had been empty for about 3 years and there was no feeling of life within it--That has certainly changed!

Anonymous said...

I bet that old house is creepy at night! Like the verse.

Betsy Brock said...

Aww...does make you wonder what memories it holds. I bet it was lovely in it's day.

MadSnapper said...

a wonderful poem and oh so true. it fits the house in your photo perfectly. that house is almost identical to my grandmothers house in Manassass GA. I have a photo of her standing in the door, with 3 steps downa and no porch.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Great poem to feature with that photo, Jo... That poor house does definitely need some LOVE. I always hate to see them when they are run-down like that. It makes me wonder who used to live there. There used to be life in that old house. Sad, isn't it????

George said...

The photo is a perfect companion to this poem.

Stella Jones said...

Poor house. It looks so unloved doesn't it. Is it too late, I wonder, to inject some life into it? I do hope not.
I enjoyed the poem very much.
Blessings, Star

Cass @ That Old House said...

Oh my goodness -- my mother knew that poem by heart, and I used to love to have her recite it to me!

It made me so sad, and possibly was part of why I love old houses so very much.

Of course my mother was also brave enough to stop at abandoned houses and go inside -- risking life and limb and my father's disapproval!

I just take pictures.

Lovely post, brought back some wonderful memories.

Gerald (SK14) said...

If it is the same house that JK wrote about then it has been emoty a long time.

Barbara Anne said...

Thank you for this eloquent word picture done by Joyce Kilmer. How poignant.

I wonder if the house in the picture has been empty since that huge tree sprouted? Surely no one would plant such a tree that close to the house.

I have a number of pieces of furniture that belonged to my parents, grandparents, and two pieces from my great-grandparents. As I live with these pieces and dust them, I think of what they've witnessed and think they're glad to still be in the family.


A Brit in Tennessee said...

Kim: I can't even imagine your house feeling empty now, it is so full of bouncing life, and excitement.

Cambridge Lady: It is a creepy place in the daytime. I once ventured to go inside, but it is posted "Keep Out/Condemned" and I did not let my curiosty get the best of me.

Betsy: I have passed this house for years, it must have been part of a farm, since it sits on the edge of a State highway.
I can only imagine the State bought the farm and the house has sat empty all these years.

Sandra: How interesting that it looks like your grandma's house.

Betsy: I would love to restore that old house, however I think she is too far gone.
At one point in time, I would guess she was a showplace.

George: Thank you, I thought it was as if the house was speaking.

Star: I think it is too far gone, and would fall apart if moved.

Cass: I have read that poem in the past, long, but tells a true tale.
Fancy your mum knowing it by heart, that's impressive !

Gerald: I don't recall that post of JK could you forward it to me ?

Barbara Anne: I would think that tree has sprouted up as a sapling, and the house has been there .
I see there is a round green circle of paint on the tree, which means the electric service tree trimmers are not far behind, to chop it down.

Barbara Anne said...

Oh, I'm sorry the huge tree is to be cut down. I only hope if it's a hardwood, some local woodworker who appreciates old-growth wood will be allowed to cut it for his use - and not to cut in tiny pieces for bird houses! This wide wood would make wonderful tables if it's the right kind of tree.

Please alert any woodworkers or craftsmen that you know!

e said...

I agree with Mr Kilmer. And with so many homeless, it's even more poignant.